Pediatric obesity and nutrition experts today said that increasing physical activity and emphasizing eating a wide variety of foods, for a high fiber and low fat diet, are the most important steps parents should take in preventing childhood obesity. The comments were made as part of a national conference on pediatric obesity sponsored by the Georgetown University's Center for Food and Nutrition policy.
Pediatricians To Parents: It's the Calories, Not Particular Foods, that Count
Dennis Bier, MD, a pediatrician affiliated with the Baylor College of Medicine, told attendees, "About one child in five weighs too much. Simply put, children are consuming far too many calories and burning far too few. The two most important actions that parents can take to help their children lead healthy lives are not to eat too much and engage in regular physical activity. Although we have heard the expression a million times, it is still the best advice. Second, parents should encourage their kids to eat a wide variety of foods from all the food groups and remember 'there are no 'good' foods or 'bad' foods, but there are good diets and bad diets.'"
Fitness Experts Call on Schools to Provide Regular PE
Lee Haney, Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, a former eight time world champion body builder, stressed, "We need to stop talking about 'couch potatoes' and kids watching too much TV or spending too much time on line and make regular physical activity a top health and education goal. It makes no sense for us to emphasize better SAT scores if our kids are getting set up now for problems with obesity, heart disease, diabetes or cancer later in life. Our number one objective should be to find ways to get kids active and fit."
Lucinda Adams, President-elect, American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance emphasized, "We cannot make any real progress on this national obesity epidemic if children are not taught that living an active lifestyle is as important as understanding American history. Every student should have access to regular physical education. Importantly, our schools need to be creative in making it fun and educational -- not just teaching soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring. We need to teach life skills not just run laps. We will not be able to meet the Surgeon General's new Healthy 2010 goals if school administrators continue to scale back on physical education in order to balance budgets."
Hydration Education a Key Component of Fitness Health
Dr. Ann Grandjean, of the International Center for Sports Nutrition warned, "As schools increase the emphasis on physical activity they need to make sure they do so in a healthy way. Active kids need adequate hydration. Today, many children do not consume the amount of fluids they need. If they are exercising or if the weather is hot or humid they need to drink even more. Consuming water, sports drinks or other beverages is essential to maintaining hydration while playing or participating in sports. It is as important as eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables."
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